Looking for a way to add protein to a meal, along with easy-to-make deliciousness? I’m a fan of legume-based cakes. Mostly I’ve made lentil or chickpea cakes, like these, these with salmon and potato (allow me a moment to swoon) and these, but I’ve decided to expand my repertoire to beans. Black beans, which are pretty much my favourite, have top billing in these tasty and nutritious cakes.
I’ve made these twice now, and like many of my recipes there’s some variation each time depending on what I have on hand.
The base of the cakes is a mash of refried black beans and sweet potato. I intended to use plain refried beans both times, but inadvertently bought a can of spicy the second time, and I do declare I liked it better. Normally I’m a season-it-myself gal, but I found it helpful to start with something that wasn’t utterly bland. We can all use a head start now and again.
As for the sweet potato, the first time I steamed it (admittedly a little too long) and the mash was looser than I wanted. I din’t want to add any binders like egg or flour to the recipe. So, for my second batch, pictured here, I cut the sweet potato into cubes and roasted it. The drier texture helped the cakes stay together better.
I find the process of making cakes like this quite pleasant. There’s just the right amount of chopping, and I do love me some chef’s knife and cutting board action. And is there anything better than scenting the kitchen with aromatics like onions, garlic and herbs? Then there’s the mashing together of the refried beans and the sweet potato. Stirring in the veggies and herbs adds pops of colour, and I find the glossy black beans visually pleasing. Then I get to shape the patties using one of my favourite all-purpose kitchen tools, the ice cream scoop, and my hands, which appeals to my mud-pie making inner child.
As if all this weren’t rewarding enough, the patties are ready in about 20 minutes, so my kitchen play is followed by the almost-instant gratification of eating the flavourful and satisfying cakes.
These cakes freeze well and can be quickly reheated for a meal, which I’ve done several times now. Along with a salad, these black bean and sweet potato cakes make for a quick lunch or supper. I just made a double batch of them that I’ll be freezing for easy meals through the summer. Sometimes I impress myself.
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Cakes
I didn’t have any cilantro on hand when I made these, otherwise I would have used it either alone or in combination with the chopped parsley. The beauty of dishes like these is that they’re so easily tailored to what you have on hand. Since there’s no binder in the mix, I suggest roasting the sweet potato instead of steaming so it’s not too moist. This recipe was developed based on using spicy refried beans. Whether using plain or spicy, just keep tasting and adjusting the seasonings until you’ve hit upon the taste that’s just right for you.
Pre-heat the oven to 375℉. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
- 1 medium(ish) sweet potato, cubed and roasted until tender
- 398 ml/14 oz. can spicy refried black beans (if you use plain, you’ll need to adjust the seasoning)
- about 1/3 cup finely chopped onion or scallions
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red chili pepper, seeded and minced
- 398 ml/14 oz. can black beans, rinsed
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- big handful flat-leaf parsley (and/or cilantro), finely chopped
- olive oil, for brushing on the shaped cakes
I cut my sweet potato into roughly 1-inch chunks, tossed it with a bit of oil and roasted at 400℉ for 30 to 40 minutes, or until nicely fork tender. If you’re having sweet potato for dinner the day before, make extra to use in these cakes — that’s kitchen smarts!
Place the roasted and cooled sweet potato into a large mixing bowl and add the refried beans. Using a potato masher, mix together until well incorporated. Don’t sweat it if there are some largish streaks of sweet potato … really, there are more important things in life.
Add the prepped aromatics and the black beans, as well as the pepper, salt and cumin. Stir together until the beans are evenly distributed, then taste and adjust the seasonings as required. Stir in the splash of vinegar and the parsley and/or cilantro.
Using a 3-ounce ice cream scoop, place a mound of the mixture in the palm of your left hand (or vice versa). Pat into a cake that’s about 1/2-inch thick and nicely rounded (unlike the one with the jagged protuberance in my photos — oops. Brush a small amount of olive oil on it, then place the oiled side down on the baking sheet. Repeat, and once all the cakes have been formed, brush the tops with just a bit more oil.
Bake for 20 minutes. Serve bottom-side up, or whichever side you think looks more attractive.